Americans Who Prefer 'Merry Christmas' to 'Happy Holidays' Are Wrong


merry christmas sign in windowI suppose in an attempt to spread the opposite of holiday cheer, a Rasmussen report has confirmed for at least the third year in a row that most American adults -- 70 percent! -- prefer stores greet customers with "Merry Christmas" as opposed to "Happy Holidays." Oh, dear. Nothing like some good old-fashioned "U.S.A.!" discrimination to make this time of year even more stressful!

When I read something like this, I can't help but recall my Midwestern suburban childhood, during which I was one of the only -- if not the only -- Jewish kids in school, from kindergarten on up through senior year. Plenty of teachers were happy to have me give a little speech to the class about the eight-day Festival of Lights or to include "The Dreidel Song" in our holiday choir show. But, at the same time, being wished an exclusive "Merry Christmas" (not "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!" -- there is a distinction) by neighbors and in stores never failed to get on my nerves.

Over the years, despite moving to an area where I'm not a minority at all, not much has changed. No, I'm not being a total Grinch. I appreciate the "Merry Christmas" sentiment! I think, "Why, thank you, I'll certainly have a merry Christmas ... while partaking in my family's typical December 25 tradition of Chinese food and a movie!" But the blatant neglect of different religions and cultures irritates me all the same, on behalf of my fellow Jews, and Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, agnostics, all of whom are also Americans.

Yes, I get it. We're a tiny, measly group compared to the 76 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christians (which might explain the almost exact match-up to the percent who prefer "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays"). But that doesn't mean we should be slighted, ignored, or outright disrespected this time of the year.

Regardless of how FOX News types constantly attempt to spin it, saying "Happy Holidays" isn't overly PC, and it doesn't detract from Christmas. It's the most humanitarian, diplomatic, and oh yeah, sensible sentiment to offer a stranger or for retail stores to wish their customers. It's an acknowledgment that not every American celebrates Christmas. That there are those of us out there who celebrate holidays other than Christmas (and even they don't fall in December, there's always New Year's, which I've always figured "Happy Holidays" encompasses). And after all, isn't the message of the holidays "peace on Earth, good will toward men"?

I'm not talking about going to extremes, you know, like asking that a mall/town/store rename their Christmas tree a "holiday tree." (Although if they have a tree, they should also have a menorah and perhaps some secular symbols prominently displayed.) But when it comes to season's greetings in a civil/public place, "Happy Holidays" is certainly the expression for the job.

Where do you fall in this debate?


Image via Jon Curnow/Flickr

polls, religion, discrimination


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Kritika Kritika

I am an Orthodox Christian but understand there are other holidays being celebrated this time of year. I wouldn't want someone telling me Happy Hanukkah because I'm not Jewish. I wouldn't be offended but it wouldn't make sense to me.

While I don't think any traditionally religous TV shows, products or places should have to be sensored (i.e. the issues with the Thomas The Train books) because they are catering to a specific religious group, I think Happy Holidays is perfectly acceptable to tell your customers because you really don't know what they celebrate.

butte... buttercup627

I was 17 working in a Hallmark store and the owner wanted us to say happy holidays. Even when customers picking up christmas cards and ornaments it was the same general sentiment "happy holidays". But I remember one lady got P****D and yelled at me that I should say merry christmas because OBVIOSLY she was celebrating christmas lol. Employees do as they're told to make their employers happy who want to make the majority of their customers happy

Amanda Pullen

I like "Happy Holidays". Since when was it bad to be respectful of others? And doesn't "Happy Holidays" cover New Years too?

Debbie Rogers Hale

Give me a break we are celebrating CHRISTMAS, it's not about making someone feel bad. And how is saying Merry Christmas at Christmas discriminating, last time I checked it was a national holiday. Try going to an Islamic country and not following their traditions and then compare that to the good ol' USA and see how stressful that makes you.  I'm so sick of American and Christian bashers.

Stephanie Morales

As an Atheist I recognize ALL winter holiday celebrations, and I think the 70% stat is wrong. Unless they polled strictly Christians, I don't think that number is correct.

I agree that it is arrogant and pushing a religion to "demand" or prefer people say "Merry Christmas". It's "Happy Holidays" because it is the season to celebrate the holiday YOU want, not the holiday you want others to celebrate.

I celebrate a secular Xmas, but we take religion and Christ out of it. It's not a "war on Christmas" either. If anything, Christians took Christmas away from the Pagans. Winter is a beauiful time of year and we should be respectful of everyone's traditions and "Happy Holiday's" does that. Happy holiday's doesn't care what you celebrate it just cares that you are happy celebrating!

Lotus... LotusMoonflower

I always say "Happy Holidays" because I think that covers everyone. I am Pagan and we celebrate Winter Solstice so I respect the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas.  Either way, I wish all of you here the Happiest Holidays, no matter what your faith!

Shann... ShannaBee

I'm gonna continue to say "Merry Christmas". This country was founded on God and we Christians are having to stifle our religion as not to offend others. Well I refuse to closet my religion! If you don't believe in God or Jesus that is your business but quit forcing Christians to be politically correct. I don't see Jews and Muslims bitching when they get the Christian holidays off of work! So it's ok to take the days off work along with your Christan coworkers who celebrate Christmas?

nonmember avatar Kristi

This has become my least favorite time of year because it never fails the day after Thanksgiving, people start in with the "war on Xmas". It's not a war, it's not a vendetta, it's not me hating on you or your religion. I say Happy Holidays to everyone, because I'm respectful of the fact that there are a multitude of other holidays during this season. Even if I know they celebrate Xmas I say Happy Holidays to encompass New Years as well. Although, I will say that if the city is using public funds to put up decorations and hosting holiday events they should be secular. After all a city event should represent it's citizens and I doubt there's any city in the country that it's wholly christian.

nonmember avatar emmecj

honestly is Chirstmas really a "religious" holiday anymore? It is more about Jolly Santa Clause (a Pagan, no?) and presents then anything Jesus. I mean we all know Jesus was not really born on 12/25, right?

Patti Adams Brock

i say happy holidays form years of customer service in a grocery store. it works all thru the holdays from halloween past new years. i don't want to offend anyone. if someone was to say i am a christian then i would share that i was too but didn't want to offend them if they weren't nativity

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